Google Privacy Controls Suck (Or Why There Are No Pictures Anymore)

Apparently, there are very few working images left on this blog. This was entirely unintentional and doesn't indicate that I've decided to neglect this blog. Rather, it's because Google's privacy controls for pictures suck, as a result of their decision to push their Google+ product to the detriment of their users.

As you may know, Google introduced their social network, Google+, to a fairly unenthusiastic response, and ever since then they have been trying to push it by linking the social media profile to every piece of content created or interacted with by that user using the Google email account associated with the profile. This can lead to content ending up centralized in the profile that the user may not have intended.

While this may not comprise a privacy violation in the strictest sense, it can pose problems that did not exist before, as media associated with a single email address is aggregated in one, highly searchable location. The most problematic aspect of this for me was the Pictures tab, where all images from all blogs that I have ever contributed to (and there are quite a lot) were aggregated on a profile that I would have very much liked to have used as a professional representation of myself and my non-LGBT-related small business. Having content associated with my critiques of the internal functionings of the LGBT community or the BDSM scene were not appropriate to have on my Google+ profile together with content I've generated for client blogs and so forth. While I don't expressly hide these aspects of my life, the way they were presented on the Google+ profile made them seem like work I was promoting in association with that profile.

Accordingly, I deleted them from the albums. Google did not offer a warning that they would also be deleted from my blogs; in fact, they explicitly used the term "album" during the deletion process, as if to indicate that the pictures existed in two locations, the album and the blog. In part, I was also doubtful that by deleting the pictures from my profile, I would be deleting them from my blogs, because that just seemed like too irresponsible, careless, and unintelligent a way to organize their system. Of course people would want to delete some pictures from their profiles without affecting their blogs.

Yet, of course, Google's rush to force the use and relevance of their social network had abrogated the concerns normally applied to the handling of users' media by a social network. Typically, when using a media-sharing website, users are reminded that, if deleting content, it will also be deleted in other locations where it appears, if that is the case. Instead, with Google+, a basic respect for users' content, and desire to control the locations in which it appears,  is entirely absent.

In some cases, I have backups of the pictures from this blog, and in other cases, I may have hidden the pictures instead of deleting them. I will restore what is available as I'm able to. What's worse, I will have to deal with the issues of further picture uploads to this and other blogs I contribute to or may contribute to in the future and how those will appear on my Google+ profile. It may be simpler to simply not have a Google+ profile at all if it's too difficult to control -- a reaction opposite to that that Google+ developers would have hoped to inspire.


Popular Posts